Mexican wineries are having a banner year in terms of international competitions: so far in 2020, 74 wines have won awards at three international events.
At the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, which wrapped up September 8 in Brno, Czech Republic, Mexico took home 59 medals. De Cote Winery’s 2016 Atempo merlot and Pozo de Luna’s 2015 malbec were named Grand Gold Medal winners out of 8,500 wines from 46 countries. Decote is located in Querétaro and Pozo de Luna in San Luis Potosí.
At Spain’s Concurso Internacional de Vinos Bacchus, more than 1,500 wines were tasted by a jury of 100 winemakers, masters of wine, masters of sommelier and journalists.
Thirteen Mexican wines won awards in the competition, which took place in March in Madrid, including four medals for Casa Madero, located in Coahuila, and three for Baja California’s Monte Xanic. The latter winery took home the competition’s top prize for its 2017 Ricardo Bordeaux blend.
In France, meanwhile, the Don Leo 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva took first place and was named best cabernet sauvignon in the world at the International Cabernet Competition, in which French sommeliers blind-tasted wines from 25 countries.
The Coahuila winery’s 2016 cabernet sauvignon/shiraz also took home the gold at the same competition. Although the 2013 cabernet was already sold out by the time news of the win hit in June, the shiraz blend can still be found online for 625 pesos (US $29).
The Decanter World Wine Awards, which occur every August and are sponsored by Decanter magazine, will announce their winners on September 22.
The event, billed as the “world’s largest and most influential wine competition,” brings together wines from 50 countries which are judged by 280 world-renowned experts.
Last year Mexican wines took home 23 awards, and it is likely more Mexican wines will get their due as the country’s renewed interest in quality winemaking has given Mexican vintages international clout.
It has been a long time coming. The first vines in Mexico were planted in 1521 but as Mexican wine began to outshine Spanish wine, the king of Spain banned its production except for religious purposes in 1699.
And despite its long history, the modern wine industry in Mexico is just beginning to come into its own. In 2005 there were 25 wineries in all of Mexico. Today, in Baja California alone, where the first vines were planted in 1683, there are upwards of 120, mostly small wineries producing world-class vintages. Wine is also produced in seven other Mexican states.
Cristina Pino Villar, winemaker for Santo Tomás in Baja California, says the emergence of high-quality wines in Mexico is due to two factors, “the professionalization of the industry — leading-edge technology in the wineries and vineyards, quality lab analyses, hiring experienced winemakers — and also that so many vineyards have decades of age, bringing complexity in a natural way,” she says. “We’re writing the story of Mexican vitiviniculture, and there are still a lot of blank pages left to fill.”
CORRECTION: Incorrect information regarding the De Cote Winery appeared under the main photo in the earlier version of this story. The winery is located in Querétaro, not Coahuila.